Blog Tour Review: Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A post-apocalyptic/dystopian religious horror novel reminiscent of Resident Evil.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Andrew Joseph White for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

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Blog Tour Review: Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A coming-of-age story about two queer girls struggling to survive at a not-so-welcoming school.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Dahlia Adler for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

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Blog Tour Review: Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A horror novel full of insects and suspense that will leave your skin crawling

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Julia Lynn Rubin for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

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Blog Tour Review: Pink, Blue, and You! by Elise Gravel with Mykaell Blais

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A great conversation-starter for adults to teach kids about gender and sexuality.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours, Elise Gravel, and Mykaell Blais for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Publishing Date: March 8, 2022

Simple, accessible, and direct, this picture book is perfect for kids and parents or teachers to read together, opening the door to conversations about gender stereotypes and everyone’s right to be their true selves.

Is it okay for boys to cry? Can girls be strong? Should girls and boys be given different toys to play with and different clothes to wear? Should we all feel free to love whoever we choose to love? In this incredibly kid-friendly and easy-to-grasp picture book, author-illustrator Elise Gravel and transgender collaborator Mykaell Blais raise these questions and others relating to gender roles, acceptance, and stereotyping.

With its simple language, colorful illustrations, engaging backmatter that showcases how appropriate male and female fashion has changed through history, and even a poster kids can hang on their wall, here is the ideal tool to help in conversations about a multi-layered and important topic.

About the Author

I was born in Montreal in 1977 and I started drawing not very long after I was born. In kindergarten I was popular because I was able to draw princesses with long spiral hair. Then, in high school, the girls would ask me to draw their ideal guy in their diary. I became very good at drawing muscles and hair, which I used later when I illustrated my book The Great Antonio . On the other hand, I am always just as bad when it comes time to use a diary correctly.

Later, I studied graphic design at Cegep and that’s when I understood that I wanted to do illustration. After my first book, the Catalog des Gaspilleurs , I wrote and illustrated about thirty others . One of my books, The Wrench , won the Governor General’s Award in the Illustration category, and since that time I have a big head and I brag all the time.

I live in Montreal with my two daughters, my husband, my cats and a few spiders. I am currently working on various projects in Quebec, English Canada and the United States. My books are translated into a dozen languages. I hope to live a long time so that I can still make lots and lots of books because I still have lots and lots of ideas.

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

This book was excellent! I was a bit worried about how I would go about reading and reviewing a children’s picture book because this is not something I normally do. However, once I opened up my copy of Pink, Blue, and You! I knew I was in for a treat.

As a children’s book, there are several things that readers already know to expect: short sentences, cute illustrations, educational message, etc. Where Pink, Blue, and You! exceeded my expectations was in how all of this was delivered. This book covers extremely important topics that kids should be learning about including gender stereotypes, gender identity, and sexuality. It teaches children about social constructs, pronouns–even a bit about bigotry–and it does so in a way that encourages open conversation between the person reading the book and the child.

Each section ends by posing a question to the reader such as should we feel bad about doing things we like? How would you describe your gender? What is your family like? By doing this, the author creates an environment of open communication in which the child can reflect on their own personal views and discuss their thoughts with the adults around them. The illustrations that accompanied these words improved the experience even more as they were very cute, diverse, and relevant.

I definitely recommend Pink, Blue, and You! to anyone who is looking for a book to teach their children about gender and sexuality. Big thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours for introducing me to this gem!

#TheWriteReads #BlogTour Review: White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Exciting and atmospheric. Full of twists and a villain that is sure to get under your skin.

Thank you so much to The Write Reads and David R. Slayton for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary physical copy!

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

Review

Book CWs

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Premise (from Goodreads)

“The taste of black magic, battery acid and rotten blackberries mixed with the odors of cheap beer and cigarettes.”

Adam Binder hasn’t spoken to his brother in years, not since Bobby had him committed to a psych ward for hearing voices. When a murderous spirit possesses Bobby’s wife and disrupts the perfect life he’s built away from Oklahoma, he’s forced to admit that maybe his little brother isn’t crazy after all. Adam is happy to escape the trailer park and get the chance to say I told you so, but he arrives in Denver to find the local witches dead.
It isn’t long before Adam is the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, he’ll have to risk bargaining with powers he’d rather avoid, including his first love, the elf who broke his heart.
The Binder brothers don’t realize that they’re unwitting pawns in a game played by immortals. Death herself wants the spirit’s head, and she’s willing to destroy their family to reap it.

Review (No Spoilers)

I really wish Goodreads had quarter (or even half) stars because I feel like this book was a solid 4.25 for me. While I wish there were more action sequences and that certain plot arcs had been tied together a bit better, I cannot deny the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this story from start to finish. White Trash Warlock is a wild ride and despite predicting many of the twists that were thrown my way, I still encountered situations and revelations that rendered me shocked.

From the very first chapter I knew that I was going to love this book. David R. Slayton is an incredible writer and the world that he’s built is so amazing and awe-inspiring that you can’t help but want to learn more and more about it. On top of that there are a few jokes sprinkled throughout the chapters that had me laughing at very unexpected moments. A book that can make me laugh is always a memorable one for me.

Interwoven with the exciting narrative of magical realms and saving loved ones from evil is a heart-wrenching story of family abuse and trauma that is equally compelling. Through a series of character thoughts and flashbacks, the reader slowly develops a clearer picture of what exactly happened all those years ago that resulted in the big family fallout. The more I read about the lives of the Binder brothers, the more I begged for them to get their happy endings. A family should only have to go through so much, paranormal creatures or not.

As the book came to a close, the final 25%–jam packed with action and excitement–was by far my favorite part. There were so many last minute twists and turns that with each turn of the page I expected something even more fantastic and shocking to occur. Goodreads labels this as the first book in The Adam Binder Novels series and I simply can’t wait for the next one to be announced!


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Book Review: The Love Study by Kris Ripper

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

This book has a lot of potential but I couldn’t connect with the main characters or the writing style

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Premise (from Goodreads)

Declan has commitment issues. He’s been an office temp for literally years now, and his friends delight in telling people that he left his last boyfriend at the altar.

And that’s all true. But he’s starting to think it’s time to start working on his issues. Maybe.

When Declan meets Sidney—a popular nonbinary YouTuber with an advice show—an opportunity presents itself: as part of The Love Study, Declan will go on a series of dates arranged by Sidney and report back on how the date went in the next episode.

The dates are…sort of blah. It’s not Sidney’s fault; the folks participating are (mostly) great people, but there’s no chemistry there. Maybe Declan’s just broken.

Or maybe the problem is that the only person he’s feeling chemistry with is Sidney.

Review (No Spoilers)

I really wanted to like this book. The premise is 100% up my lane and I actually ignored my August TBR to read this book as soon as possible. In the end, what didn’t work out for me was a mixture of writing style and pacing.

If I had to describe how this book is written, I think the best way would be to say that it reminded me of what a transcription of a video diary might sound like. There are a lot of “um”s, “like”s, “…”s, and question marks (to indicate a raise in pitch rather than a real question) in the narrative that you don’t normally see in adult novels.

To explain what I mean, here are two quotes from my copy of the book:

‘Um, but yeah, I don’t know, it seemed like I wasn’t adult enough for romantic relationships so I just didn’t go there. Like, other people wanted to go out for fancy dinners and I wanted, I don’t know, to stay home and bake cookies together.’

I was super happy for my friends getting married. And also? Part of me? Couldn’t wait until it was over.

While this type of formatting might work for YA novels, I felt like it didn’t quite fit in with the age bracket of our characters (who were around 30 years old). I often felt like the characters behaved like teenagers rather than established adults.

Another thing that bothered me about the writing was that I felt like everyone was constantly tripping over themselves about what the most PC way to say something was. Here is one example:

“It’s seven a.m. Who doesn’t look bad at this time of day?”
He glanced up. “You don’t look bad, Declan.” He winced. “Shit, I don’t mean that in a harassment way, I’m not hitting on you. I just mean it looks like you took a shower this morning.”

Interactions like these happened so often that reading conversations between characters was actually quite exhausting. At some point in the book, a Black character mentions that attempting sensitivity can actually be worse than not attempting sensitivity, which encompassed my feelings about a majority of these awkward scenes.

That being said, I think this book has a lot of potential. I would have liked Declan to go on more dates and for the chemistry between him and Sidney to have more time to build, but I can’t deny the fact that they shared many cute moments together. And though this book is full of queer characters of different genders and sexualities, there was absolutely no focus on queer pain/tragedy which is something that I very much appreciated.

I also always enjoy when books include supportive side/background characters and Declan’s friend group basically consists of the most supportive people you could imagine. Although it seems the next book in this series will be about Oscar (there was a sneak peak at the end), I’d really like to read a book about Mason as I felt he had a lot of character depth that wasn’t fully explored.

Thank you NetGalley for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for an honest review! If you’re looking for a feel-good, light-on-drama novel with lots of queer rep, then I’d recommend checking out The Love Study, either on NetGalley or when it comes out in September!

Book Review: Black Enough Edited by Ibi Zoboi

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A diverse collection of short stories, some of which I loved and some of which were average.

Book CWs

  • Racism
  • Homophobia
  • Bullying
  • Sexual Assault
  • Profanity/Strong language
  • Character death (mentioned)

Premise (From Goodreads)

Black Enough is a star-studded anthology edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi that will delve into the closeted thoughts, hidden experiences, and daily struggles of black teens across the country. From a spectrum of backgrounds—urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—Black Enough showcases diversity within diversity.

Whether it’s New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds writing about #blackboyjoy or Newbery Honor-winning author Renee Watson talking about black girls at camp in Portland, or emerging author Jay Coles’s story about two cowboys kissing in the south—Black Enough is an essential collection full of captivating coming-of-age stories about what it’s like to be young and black in America.

Review (No Spoilers)

As a mixed Black woman, the main reason I picked up this book was because I have gone a majority of my adult life being told and feeling like I’m not Black enough. I could go on and on about these experiences but it basically boils down to growing up in Hawaii–a place with a lot of ethnic minorities but admittedly very little Black people–with a Black father who actively worked to suppressed as much knowledge about Black culture from me as possible. Unfortunately for me, there were only two stories (I think…I have a very bad memory) in this book that dealt with mixed kids and as a result I don’t feel any more validated as a Black person than I did before reading it. It’s probably what hurt the most about this reading experience.

The book is a collection of 17 (if I counted right) short stories about what it means to be Black in America. And when I say, “what it means to be Black” all I mean is that each story has one or more Black protagonists. Some take deeper dives into race than others and they’re all about different people, written by different authors so there is a good variety when it comes to story type and writing style.

Because there are so many short stories in this book, it’s hard for me to try to talk about how/why I liked it. I will say that I definitely enjoyed certain stories a lot more than others. Some of my favorites were: Black Enough by Varian Johnson, Oreo by Brandy Colbert, Wild Horses, Wild Hearts by Jay Coles, and Hackathon Summers by Coe Booth. These stories were short but powerful and they left me feeling things that I can’t quite describe. You ever watch a movie or something and you get to the end and you’re just like wow that’s kind of how I felt.

I recommend that everyone take a look at this book. I think it’s particularly nice in that you don’t have to consume it all at once. You could set aside small portions of time to read one or two stories while saving the others for later. I do feel like I should warn you though that some of these stories don’t have “happy” endings. None of them have terribly bad endings or anything but you might get to an end and be left wondering ‘well what happens next?‘ and sometimes that was the beauty of it.

Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Not as likable as Fangirl, but still an entertaining and light-hearted read.

Book CWs

  • Paranormal Creatures
  • Character Death
  • Violence
  • Racism (ish)
  • Murder
  • Abuse
  • Bullying

Premise

Simon Snow is known as the highly-prophesied Chosen One in the wizarding world. Unfortunately, he is–and always has been–an extremely incompetent wizard, a fact that his roommate (and nemesis) Baz never fails to remind him of. His spells rarely ever work and if it weren’t for the help of his best friend, Penelope, and his pure dumb luck, he probably wouldn’t have made it this far.

It is Simon’s final year at the Watford School of Magicks and Baz is no where to be found. Paranoid that Baz is simply lurking in the shadows waiting for his final attack, Simon soon becomes obsessed with finding him. In fact, it is 100% his main focus.

Except magic is being destroyed all around the world by a monster wearing Simon’s face so maybe that’s where Simon’s priorities should lie. Magic is more important to Simon than Baz. Isn’t it?

Review (No Spoilers)

My partner had described this book to me as a Harry Potter parody (which is why I was interested in reading it) and that’s kind of exactly what it was. Simon is a complete doofus and the spells are sayings like “you can’t touch this” and “ix-nay on the atford-Way” so the book can be freaking hilarious at times.

The romance really had me going so it’s unfortunate that it begins over halfway through the book–and it’s a pretty big book. I would have much rather had more romance and less buildup but that’s just because I love me some lovin’.

Once you get past the couples and comedy, the plot is actually really tragic. A lot more tragic than I ever thought it would be and a lot more tragic than I think I was mentally prepared for. I am extremely glad that I read Carry On before Fangirl because it allowed me to feel the shock and horror of certain plot twists that would have otherwise been spoiled. I highly recommend taking my route if you want this same experience.

I’d say that the reason this book lost a star was because certain chapters (specifically the Lucy chapters) seemed kind of pointless and unnecessarily confusing. I also am super ambivalent about the ending. I feel like I was disappointed and happy at the same time. You might even say that I was both disappointed and appointed.

Book Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (Creekwood #2)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I really wanted to like this book but I couldn’t stand Leah as a character.

Book CWs

  • Homophobia
  • Biphobia (in particular, there is a horrible rant in the book where a character is yelled at for not being “bisexual enough”)
  • Fatphobia

Premise

Leah Burke is one of Simon Spier’s best friends but even after Simon was outed as gay, she hasn’t been able to tell him (or anyone else other than her mom) that she is bisexual.

As a senior in high school, Leah knows that her life is on the brink of change but has no idea how to handle it. As she struggles to find out who she is, she finds herself losing old friends, making new friends, and–perhaps even–falling in love.

Review (No Spoilers)

I have a bad memory. To combat this, I try to create a blog draft as soon as a finish a book to scribble ideas of what I want to remember to write about in my review.

Leah is annoying AF

The only note past-me wrote to present-me.

So, that’s what I have to work from.

My partner and I read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda together (review here) and I completely fell in love with that story. Honestly, I only bought Leah on the Offbeat because I wanted to follow Simon more and it was the closest thing I had to a sequel.

Honestly, I was hesitant on reading the book because I never liked Leah’s character in Simon’s story. She seemed to provide almost nothing but negativity. When I finally picked Leah on the Offbeat up, I had hoped that it would give me more insight into her character. Unfortunately, I ended up just hating her more and more. I hated her so much that I didn’t even want her to get her happy ending because I felt she didn’t deserve it.

I suppose that since I’m going on and on about how much I hate Leah, it would only seem fitting that I would give this book a 1 or 2 star rating. And I probably would have, except for the fact that this book was still kind of enjoyable.

There were a few times where I thought “you know, maybe I can like Leah” and I cherished those moments, even if they didn’t last long. There were also many parts where I laughed out loud and I always appreciate a book that can do that to me.

I think what I liked most about the book, though, was the side characters. Their stories were–to me–100% better than Leah’s. Give me an entire book about Leah’s mom, Garrett, Bram, Abby, or–what the heck–even Taylor and I will read that so hard. I think having a hatable MC allowed me to appreciate everyone else just that much more.

I will admit that I think Leah did grow as a person, but only very minimally. She was in denial about her flaws the entire book and I really wish that she would have come to that realization by the end. If she had, I might have given this book 4 or 5 stars.